Varied Bunting is a beautifully colored bird of Mexico and Central America,
with a range that just crosses into the United States in southern Texas,
Arizona, and New Mexico. The beautifully colored males often appear
dark, even almost black, until seen in lighting that highlights their
beautiful iridescent plumage. They live in dense shrubby thickets, but
are not shy of humans. When males are singing in the summer, they are
often quite approachable.
Habitat: Found in areas of thick brushy vegetation
or dense undergrowth of open forests, especially in brushy canyons along
rivers and streams.
Diet: Feeds heavily on insects and spiders during
the summer breeding season. Also feeds on seeds, fruits, and berries,
especially during the winter months.
Behavior: Uusually forages relatively close to the
ground in shrubs and bushes and relatively low in trees, as well as on the
ground itself. During the summer months they typically are solitary
when foraging, but in winter they sometimes form small flocks.
Nesting: The nest of a Varied Bunting is a cup of
grasses, weeds, and spider webs, lined with plant down or other softer
material. It is placed in dense shrubbery or a small tree, generally
within 10 feet of the ground. The female alone incubates the eggs, but
both parents help to feed and raise the young. They often will nest
more than once in a breeding season.
Song: The song of a Varied Bunting is a variable
Feeders: Will attend feeders for sunflower
seeds and millet. They will also sometimes sip sugar water from
Migration: A relatively short-distance migrant.
Most birds in the northern portion of their range move south into Mexico for
the winter, although some do overwinter in southern Texas. Birds in
much of their Mexican and Central American range are non-migratory..
Conservation Status: Populations have declined in
many areas due to habitat loss, but the Varied Bunting is still locally
common in suitable habitat in its range. The
lists the Varied Bunting as a species of "Least Concern".